Arkansas Session 2019

The AR Legislative session has been going on a few weeks. They will be making important decisions that affect us. Here are some resources to help you stay up-to-date no matter where you live.

See the bills that have been filed:

The boxes are check for 2019. Just click Submit to see the latest list.

http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/SearchCenter/Pages/historicalbil.aspx

See today’s calendar to decide which committees you want to watch.

Public Health, Welfare, & Labor are committees for both Senate and House that discuss bills that affect Medicaid. Each meeting has an agenda, so you can see if the bill you care about is on the list for today.

http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assembly/2019/2019R/Pages/Home.aspx

Watch what’s going on right now:

(Business hours)

http://sg001-harmony.sliq.net/00316/Harmony/en/View/UpcomingEvents/20190208/-1

Watch previous sessions and committees:

Bills travel to different committees, to the House, and Senate before they hit the Governor’s desk. You might want to go back to see how your legislators voted or if they discussed your concerns in the meetings.

http://sg001-harmony.sliq.net/00316/Harmony/en/View/RecentEnded/20190208/-1

AR Works – 18K Lose Coverage

The news isn’t good for Arkansas Works. Reports are showing that over 18,000 people have lost coverage so far.

Check out the whole story.

People have to work or report some exemption as a reason that they can’t work, like if they have a disability or a kid at home. If they don’t report 80 hours of work a month, for 3 months in a year, they get kicked off.

What do you think about this? Let us know!

If you have lost coverage, you can contact Legal Aid of Arkansas for help! Call 870-732-6370 ext 2206.

Make an Impact with 2 Simple Words

This holiday season, you can make an impact with 2 simple words: Thank you.

Especially if you’re a Medicaid recipient, let the people in charge know that we need Medicaid, and let them know what it does for us. Tell them thank you, and ask them to keep directing funding to Medicaid. Send them a photo of the person who is helped by Medicaid.

This is what advocacy is. It’s so easy! Just speak up for what matters to you.

Here’s how:

Email DHS Director Gillespie

Email Governor Hutchinson:

other contact: governor.arkansas.gov/online-services/contact-us

Email any State Congressperson

Contact any Federal Congressman

Contact any elected official

Upholding the ADA: Living in the Community

Everyone on the CES Waiver, all of you who enjoy having your loved one living near to you instead of in an institution, & providers who support waiver services:

The ability to live freely in the community has been questioned, according to this article, by a top official with the US Department of Health and Human Services, enough to alarm a group of Congressmen. They formed a bipartisan group and took action.


“The lawmakers said they were told that Lazare said she believed the Supreme Court came to the wrong conclusion in the landmark Olmstead v. L.C. case, which affirmed the right of people with disabilities to access community-based living, and that she prefers segregated and institutional settings. In addition, Lazare reportedly said she believed that a federal Medicaid rule outlining what types of settings qualify as community-based should be revisited, according to a letter from Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Gregg Harper, R-Miss., and Jim Langevin, D-R.I.”

Even when things are quiet in the news, someone in power is thinking these things. Maybe they want to save money, or possibly they think less of people with disabilities. Some in power think they have the means to change these protections. We need to always be communicating to our legislators why we want to live in the community or why we want our loved ones out in the community instead of institutions. We need to know our rights and assert them!

Laws that protect people with disabilities

The ADA National Network

Take a moment to make our Congressmen understand how much living in the community means to us. They are the ones who would have to fight a battle that threatens the ADA.

Contact our Arkansas Congressmen!!

Contact any US elected official!

Compare Medicaid in each State

Each and every state may have Medicaid, but it is not all run the same. According to ASHA, “State regulations and standards differ greatly in other areas of Medicaid, including:

  • provider requirements for Medicaid participation, credentialing, and supervision;
  • documentation requirements for plan of care approval, criteria for services, authorization, and reimbursement justification;
  • Medicaid audit process and penalties for errors;
  • use of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).”

Make sure you’re aware of these differences. For example, TEFRA is an optional waiver that not all states carry, and if they do, they don’t utilize it the same. For example in Arkansas, if a child meets the health requirements, it is accessible for families, no matter their income, on a sliding pay scale. However, the way we understand its application may be specific to Arkansas. If you move, you may not have TEFRA at all.

So how can you know what’s available to you? Use the resources below to find out more about Medicaid and how it’s different across the US!

What if your state has limited resources? There may be more out there than you know. Look around at state and local resources. There are national programs, state benefits, foundations, organizations, and grants that may help you in a bind. For example, check out this list of foundations that assist for children’s special needs.

If Medicaid matters to you, please constantly tell your elected officials. The trend is to cut Medicaid and provide those funds elsewhere. Get the facts to boost your confidence, but don’t stop communicating! Tell your legislators why Medicaid saves you! Here are some ways we could see Medicaid change in coming years.

Each link leads to a different resource we’ve found to try to help you with info or tangible resources. MSL will add to this list as we find more!

Tax Reform Bill: How to Contact AR Senators


Watch the video above to get all of the contact information to get contact information and tips.

Other helpful links:

https://www.npr.org/templates/event/embeddedVideo.php?storyId=567758536&mediaId=567762951

Senate pulls All-night Session to Vote on Skinny Repeal

The Senate is set to vote on a newly written bill, referred to as the skinny repeal, barely released an hour ago. They will vote around midnight.

Read the full text.

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Even Senators dislike it, but they may still vote it through.
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Watch live as they vote:
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Track the votes.

Senate Voted to Proceed: Now What?

Earlier today, the Senate voted 51-50 to proceed with debate over the health care bill. With only 2 opposing Republican votes, just 1 shy of what was needed, plus a tie-breaking vote from VP Pence, the motion succeeded. We now move toward serious Medicaid cuts that can’t be reversed once set into motion, and it will take all of us standing together to prevent it.

Watch how each Senator voted.

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Data shows that any bill, amendment, or revision proposed so far will be detrimental to Medicaid recipients. We (MSL) oppose the per capita caps or block grants that have been proposed because they will shift great stress to state budgets and reduce the ability to give recipients the coverage they need. We oppose ending expansion because it will result in millions losing coverage. In addition, the aforementioned bills remove essential health benefits and pre-existing condition protections, which would be detrimental to all Americans, making coverage unaffordable if not unattainable for many.

As part of the AACF statement on how this vote will affect Arkansas, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families said: “Today’s vote shows that we have more work to do. Despite an outcry from health care professionals, business owners, families, and even governors, many Senators have decided to move forward with legislation that will destabilize the entire health care system. Too much is at risk to continue down the current path. Children with special needs, elderly enrollees, and people with chronic conditions who rely on Medicaid will lose coverage. Health care for families that were able to purchase affordable coverage, many for the first time, is also at risk.

The people have spoken—any proposal that falls short of guaranteeing everyone affordable, comprehensive coverage, is unacceptable. Now, it’s time for Congress to listen. We ask that Senator Cotton and Senator Boozman commit to voting no on any bill that endangers the health of tens of thousands of Arkansans. Anything less is breaking their promise to all of us.”

Now that we understand the ramifications haven’t changed, here’s what will happen next:

  1. The Senate will debate for 20 hours. By rules, to be fair, Republicans and Democrats get equal time of 10 hours each.
  2. The Senate will probably vote a bunch of times on amendments and such.
  3. Then the Senate will vote on a finalized bill and send it to the House.
  4. The House will vote, and if it passes, they’ll send it to President Trump.

See a flow chart.

As you can see, if you oppose Medicaid cuts, you can’t give up. Not a single Democrat voted to proceed, and we only need a few Republicans to oppose to keep any bill from moving forward. We were only one opposing vote short. Take a breath, renew your determination, and communicate in any way you possibly can!

Contact your Senator!

Email your Senators’ legislative aids!

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Stand strong!

Take Action: Graphic to Share

The news changes like the wind. Are they voting or aren’t they? Repeal and replace or repeal without replace? No matter what’s happening with them, we need to continue to make our needs and wants abundantly clear.

Many are saying that they can’t get through to Senators via phone calls. Don’t stop calling because they are counting the calls. 866-426-2631

However, social media is a great way to publicly contact your Senators, especially since they won’t post their direct email addresses.

Share this graphic with them and tag them in your posts. Use hash tags like #BCRA or #ProtectOurCare to help others see your posts!

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Medicaid Saves Lila

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This is my sweet girl, Lila. She’s active and intelligent. She loves to swing, eat blackberries, and paint. Don’t you dare turn your back on her because she’s mischievous too! She loves her friends, family, and kitty-cats. She is absolutely the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done with my life, and she just so happens to have Down Syndrome.

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She might smile a lot, but her life hasn’t been easy. Born almost a month early due to multiple complications, Lila spent some time in the NICU. She’s overcome multiple illnesses and surgeries, including open heart surgery soon after her first birthday and many others since. In fact, we have received 2 new diagnoses this year alone, and she’ll have at least one surgery.

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My husband and I are proud Arkansans. We’re educated, hard-working, tax-paying citizens. At the time of Lila’s birth, we lived in another state. Despite the fact that we both had good jobs and primary insurance coverage, we struggled to provide for her needs. When we moved back to Arkansas, Lila was significantly delayed in many areas.

IMG_6519 Our friends told us about TEFRA, a type of Medicaid funding that provides for disabled children and that requires the family to pay a premium. Our primary insurance pays first for all that it will cover, and Medicaid makes sure that Lila doesn’t go without the rest. We gladly pay a monthly fee for this essential assistance!

Lila now receives medical treatments that she needs from specialists and Occupational, Physical, and Speech therapy. She attends a school where she is loved and accepted, and they practice important skills in the classroom to prepare her for mainstream Kindergarten. Lila is constantly learning the necessary skills to be independent: speaking new words, learning to feed herself, to dress herself, and to climb stairs. One of my favorite moments was the first time I ever heard her say, “Ma Ma.” Can you imagine waiting 4 years to hear that?

IMG_2776We never expected to need Medicaid. Even though we’d paid taxes for years for Medicaid, we didn’t know that a person’s life can change drastically in a moment – a car accident, a stroke, a job loss, a cancer diagnosis, a chromosomal difference – to cause them to need Medicaid. We thought that if we worked hard enough, we could take care of ourselves and Lila. But no matter how hard we work or what we give up, we just can’t afford to provide for all of Lila’s needs. Now, because of Medicaid, Lila is thriving, and we’re not being crushed under the weight of Lila’s ever-growing medical debt. We have hope that she will continue to develop and someday be a valued, contributing member of society. We are incredibly thankful for Medicaid.

We tell everyone we can how essential Medicaid is! Lila has visited the Capitol and state lawmakers multiple times to represent herself and friends like her. Since she can’t speak much yet, my husband and I tell them how much Medicaid is literally saving lives. I can’t wait for the day that Lila will tell them herself. She brings a beauty and light to this dark world, and we will never stop fighting for her!

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